Adam Dorfman

Adam Dorfman

Adam Dorfman is an interactive marketing professional with over 15 years experience in all facets of online marketing including local & organic search, pay per click, paid inclusion, email, RSS/XML driven advertising, ad networks, social networking, blogging, website analytics, usability and offline integration as well as web development, hosting, networking and project management. Read more.

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About Adam Dorfman

Adam Dorfman is an interactive marketing professional with over 15 years experience in all facets of online marketing including local & organic search, pay per click, paid inclusion, email, RSS/XML driven advertising, ad networks, social networking, blogging, website analytics, usability and offline integration as well as web development, hosting, networking and project management. Read more.

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Pokémon Go is not only a cultural phenomenon; it’s also a location-marketing bonanza. The most popular mobile game in U.S. history, which challenges players to find, train, and do battle with Pokémon that appear in our real-world environments, will soon become bigger when the game’s creator, Niantic, rolls out an advertising model. But businesses that operate brick-and-mortar storefronts, especially retailers and restaurants, need not wait for Niantic to launch the model. Many brick-and-mortar businesses are increasing foot traffic and sales by creating their own location marketing Pokémon Go hacks — and so should you. This post offers five tips.

First off, a PSA: before you attempt jump on to the Pokémon Go location-marketing craze, do your homework. Download the app and play the game. (Chances are, someone at your location already is.) Get immersed. Appreciate the experience from the standpoint of the players. Understand how the game’s mechanics are intertwined with location.

For instance, playing the game means getting outside your home and work space and using your smartphone to join teams and find Pokémon that pop up in real-world locations (through the power of augmented reality). Those locations can and do include commercial establishments, which, naturally, draw players. If your location has been lucky enough to be designated a PokéStop or a gym by the game designers, players will visit you to collect special rewards, train their Pokémon, and do battle. By paying a modest fee, you can use a Lure to draw more Pokémon to your location, where players are bound to gather and play.

But you won’t know any of this important information unless you play the game. Fortunately, doing so is easy and fun — which is exactly why Pokémon Go became a global phenomenon within hours of its general release July 6.

Once you do your homework, it’s time to start capitalizing on the game. Here are some ideas:

1. Get into the Game

If your business is lucky enough to be a PokéStop or gym, you absolutely need to capitalize on your good fortune. You will gain natural foot traffic from people playing the game nearby (trust me — once they’re in your neighborhood, they’ll discover that you are a PokéStop or gym). But, better yet, you can draw foot traffic from far and wide by advertising your coveted designation, as the Sacramento Zoo does by using social media to notify players that they’ll find nine PokéStops and gyms inside the zoo. If you have a strong Facebook presence, try geo-targeted advertising on Facebook.
As noted, for a modest fee, you can also use a Lure module to attract Pokémon to your location (if you happen to be a PokéStop) for 30 minutes. Lure modules not only attract players, they also build goodwill because players know you were kind enough to set a Lure. Consider also offering a deal to anyone who visits your store to set a Lure. One New York pizzeria saw business increase 75 percent after its manager spent $10 to drop a dozen Lures.

2. Host an Event

Pokémon Go is a social game. Businesses can tap into the game’s social spirit and celebrate the players by hosting an event. For instance, restaurants should consider advertising Pokémon meet-ups with free or discounted food and beverages to attract players and teams (even if they’re on opposing teams). In Chicago, Japanese street food spot/ramen house Yusho is doing just that. The restaurant, which is also a Pokémon gym, has hosted a Pokémon party with special food offers.

3. Provide a Utility

Pokémon players are constantly on the go, burning up calories and depleting their mobile phone batteries. Savvy businesses could make themselves useful by offering free energy snacks and battery charges exclusively to players who come into their stores. In Australia, for instance, Virgin Mobile provides free phone charges at retail stores and kiosks in malls where its stores are located. Virgin Mobile also offers free secure charge lockers in food courts. And you don’t need to be a Virgin Mobile customer to enjoy the services — all you need to do is play Pokémon Go and stop in for a charge.

4. Reward Players

Players love to get rewarded with points and the status that comes with leveling up. So celebrate their achievements! For instance, advertise offers for players who accumulate a certain number of points or for those who capture one of the harder-to-find Pokémon. All they need to do is visit your location and show them your mobile phone. Remember, Pokémon Go players are in a happy, enthused state of mind. They want to visit locations where they can play. They will stay and spend money when you reward them to stay. Whatever you do, don’t alienate them by turning them away — unless you want to become a poster child for a business that doesn’t get it. You can also reward players by offering discounts for simply coming in, playing, and capturing Pokémon, as many businesses are doing.

5. Create Your Own Spin-off Contests

Another way to tap into the passion of Pokémon players is to create spin-off games. Consider, for instance, encouraging players to share selfies of themselves at your location (or images of Pokémon they’ve caught) on their social spaces, such as Instagram, with a customized hashtag. Then watch for the images and offer a reward to the most creative one. In Salem, Massachusetts, Flying Saucer Pizza Company encourages customers to share Pokémon Go pictures on social media and tag the restaurant. Players who do so are eligible to win free gift cards. Or you can do as Applebee’s has done, and simply offer to retweet and share your favorite fan-generated images that tag your location. Especially because Applebee’s has reach, the joy of a shout-out and share from the chain is a reward in and of itself.

Dive In

As I noted in a recent Marketing Land column, Pokémon Go is only going to get bigger as Niantic rolls out a formal branded program. I would urge businesses to avoid the temptation to treat Pokémon Go as a passing phase. Pokémon Go is already surpassing many other apps in popularity, and Niantic is still rolling out the game worldwide. By tapping into a strong legacy Pokémon brand and creating a game with brilliant mechanics, Niantic has quickly launched a sustainable business model. Do your homework. Start playing. And start profiting.

For further reading:

 

 

Advertising Age, “Sponsored Locations Are Coming to Pokémon Go on a Cost-Per-Visit Basis,” by Maureen Morrison, July 14, 2016.

Bauserman Group, “10 Examples of Businesses Capitalizing on the Pokémon Craze,” July 15, 2016.

Eater, “How Restaurants Are Dealing with Pokémon Go Mania,” by Whitney Filloon, July 11, 2016.

Forbes, “How ‘Pokémon Go’ Can Lure More Customers to Your Local Business,” by Jason Evangelho, July 9, 2016.

Gizmodo, “Virgin Mobile Has Free Charging Stations for Pokémon Go Players,” by Rae Johnston, July 12, 2016.

Inc.,Pokémon Go Is Driving Insane Amounts of Sales at Small, Local Businesses. Here’s How It Works,” by Walter Chen, July 11, 2016.

 PC Magazine: “Pokémon Go: How the Pokéconomy Is Changing Business, One Lure at a Time,” by Rob Marvin, July 13, 2016.

Street Fight, “6 Ways That Local Businesses Are Using Pokémon Go to Drive Business,” by Stephanie Miles, July 12, 2016.

 

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If you’ve checked into a restaurant lately, you may have noticed that Google has asked questions such as “Does this location take reservations?” or “Does this restaurant serve breakfast all day?” Google is promoting these questions to help collect business attributes for locations, which helps consumers during their decision-making process.

Knowing if a restaurant takes reservations may inform your decision to go there. For that reason, businesses with multiple locations must treat their attributes as part of their location data.

In my latest Search Engine Land byline I share the importance of business attributes — and how, combined with accurate location data, they can create “next moments,” which encourage consumers to convert.

With recent developments such as Version 3 of the Google My Business API, businesses need to manage their attributes carefully. Have anything else to add? Connect with me — I’d love to discuss.

During SMX Advanced this week, Joy Hawkins confirmed that ads are indeed coming to the local pack.

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This development is not unexpected, and Google has always tested and expanded where in search results they might insert advertising. Indeed, this isn’t the first instance of Google introducing advertising related to Google Maps, and search marketers have been writing about advertising in Google Maps for over six years now. The difference this time is the maps results (aka local pack results) on Google’s primary results pages are now having advertising inserted into it — something that has always been populated by organic only results.

 

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Image Credit: The Verge

Why Is This Change Happening Now?

Google has been paying more attention to the way consumers discover businesses at the local level for a good reason: according to Google, the number of “near me” searches has surged 34x since 2011, and 88 percent of those searches involve a mobile device. During those near me searches, consumers quickly research and discover businesses nearby — moments of decision making that Google refers to as micro-moments. This shift means that although the amount of real estate for traditional paid ads on search engine results pages (SERPs) has shrunk in general, Google continues to experiment with new formats that include advertising at the local level, especially for mobile searches.

What Does This Change Mean for Brands with Multiple Locations?

Businesses that manage locations, especially multiple locations, need to address a number of important implications resulting from ads coming to local packs:

  1. Organic real estate is shrinking: With one third of the local pack listings in Google’s SERPs now being shifted towards paid ads, the competition for the remaining two will become fiercer than ever. It’s more important than ever that businesses treat their location data as a precious asset that is actively managed, organized, made accurate, and distributed to be visible where consumers conduct near me searches. Because the local pack lists a minimal amount of data to support a local search result, it’s absolutely crucial for businesses to get their basic name, address, and phone (NAP) data accurate. (Read the SIM Partners CMO’s Guide to Location Data Management for more best practices.) That said, it feels like this decrease in non-paid results could result in more people clicking on “More places” at the bottom of the local pack, which would, in turn, increase the amount of impressions that businesses currently ranked 4-7 would receive in the Local Finder results.
  2. A holistic local search strategy is critical: As I noted in a recent blog post about Google Maps, brands need to develop a coordinated paid/organic strategy that allows them to dial up their voice when appropriate and follow through on the increased awareness by making it easy for customers to find your locations. A paid strategy works best when you complement it with a foundation of strong location data.
  3. Having a compelling user experience of location pages is a must: For any business that wants to compete for that top spot in these new local pack ads, having a user experience that keeps visitors on pages is incredibly important for Quality Score purposes. The Google Quality score is an estimate of the quality of your ads, keywords, and landing pages. The Quality Score is a crucial metric. As Google notes, higher quality ads can lead to lower prices and better ad positions. (Google explains more about the Quality Score here.)
  4. There may be an additional benefit: businesses that offer a product or service in areas that they don’t physically exist an alternative way to appear in the local pack results other than spamming Google My Business with fake locations.

What Should I Do Next?

The bottom line is that businesses managing locations have fewer opportunities to appear in local pack results organically when consumers conduct near me searches. As a next step, businesses should assess the health of their location data. Is your location data accurate? Have you shared your location data with the major data aggregators and publishers that ensure your locations are found when consumers conduct near me searches? And since the overwhelming number of near me searches are conducted with mobile devices, are your local listings optimized for mobile? Being found naturally at a local level is getting more challenging in the new world that Google is creating. You need a strategy to support your findability with location data. Contact us to discuss how we can help.

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To no one’s surprise, at the 2016 WorldWide Developers Conference, Apple showcased powerful new capabilities for its Siri voice-activated intelligent assistant. But Apple also did something else too: reassert itself as a powerful force shaping the future of location marketing. Businesses that manage multiple locations need to be ready for a slew of new changes by treating Apple as an amplifier for their location data across an ecosystem of discovery that spans apps ranging from Apple TV to Maps. Here is a quick snapshot of those changes:

Smarter Apple Maps

With iOS X, Apple has redesigned Apple Maps and opened up the app to developers, giving Apple Maps capabilities that make local discovery smarter, more interactive, and seamless. For instance, when you open up Apple Maps, Maps proactively suggests a route to different places such as work or restaurants based on what Maps knows about your habits at various times throughout the day. Once you are on the road, Apple Maps will inform users of alternate routes and distances to places that seem interesting to the user. Slick features include a new “Dynamic View,” which adjusts the zoom level based on how fast you’re driving and how long this stretch of road is. Many of these changes amount to Apple taking some of the advances the company made with app indexing in iOS 9 and pushing the results and data collected beyond Spotlight and Siri results directly into native apps like Maps.  

Even more significant, though, are the changes coming to Maps as Apple opens up Maps to third-party developers via Map Extensions. With Map Extensions, Apple Maps will be a more useful all-in-one feature for on-demand living. For instance, as Apple demonstrated, users will be able to use Maps to search for places to eat, book a reservation via OpenTable, and order an Uber ride to their destination, paying for all transactions without even leaving Apple Maps. Consequently, Apple Maps will become a stronger destination not only to navigate but also to conduct transactions in a frictionless environment.

I’m speculating here, but as I learn more about the way Apple Maps is evolving, I envision businesses making their locations more intelligent and minimizing the friction of converting “near me” moments of intent into “next moments” of business for the brand. For instance, a hospital could insert a Schedule an Appointment call to action directly into the business cards in Maps results if a user has authorized Maps to allow that action to happen.

Siri: Smarter and More Pervasive

Apple is also making Siri an even smarter and more common discovery tool especially by opening up Siri for third-party development.

For instance, if you are looking for movies to watch on Apple TV, you will be able to use Siri to do more natural, intuitive searches, such as “Find high school comedies from the 1980s,” and on YouTube, “Find Steph Curry’s 3-point shots.” Users will also be able to conduct intelligent searches on their Macs, ranging from “Find me my work files from Ken marked DRAFT” to “What new movies are playing this Friday?” And you can pay for the movie you find by using either your iPhone, desktop, or tablet because Apple is integrating Siri across all devices.

By integrating Siri across multiple devices, Apple recognizes that no single platform owns the discovery process. If we’re doing especially rich, complicated research — say, researching lodging or flight options as we plan a family trip, or researching a personal medical issue before we search for physicians — we might start on our desktops. Then we might toggle over to our iPhones when we move from a broader discovery for narrower searches on the go. Apple understands we live in a multi-channel world, with mobile at the center. And now Siri.

By allowing third-parties to build more intelligent voice controls, Apple is strengthening Siri’s position within the discovery ecosystem as Apple fights with Google to win the war for intelligent search. For instance, Apple’s Craig Federighi demonstrated how to use Siri to make a command with another app, in this case WeChat: “WeChat Nancy that we’ll be 5 minutes late.” From there, you can use Siri to manage functions ranging from getting an Uber ride to booking dinner. This more seamless functionality will accelerate the uptake the voice search by making voice commands more natural and easier to make across multiple apps. As analyst Mary Meeker noted in her popular 2016 Internet Trends report, voice search is one of the key trends influencing how people live and how businesses operate. Google has been anticipating this change for some time.

At 2016 WWDC, Apple has made it clear that it expects to be the center of discovery, which includes local discovery. It is essential that businesses sense and respond by optimizing your location data for Apple, which is one of the major “data amplifiers” ensuring that content is found where people conduct “near me” searches across the discovery ecosystem.

Google Maps has always been an important place for businesses to be visible. Now Google has given businesses a reason to turn Google Maps into next moments of discovery via promoted content. The advent of promoted content on Google Maps means that businesses can expect free real estate to start disappearing on Google Maps — and it’s all the more important to pursue a holistic paid/organic search strategy.

Next Moments and Google Maps

A next moment is a term SIM Partners created to describe the action that occurs after someone finds your brand through a search, typically on a mobile device. Next moments can occur anywhere searches are done, including apps such as Google Maps.

Next moments are critical for any business that operates locations. Being visible in search results puts you in the consideration set when people look for things to do, places to go, and things to buy. When you offer content such as a mobile wallet offer or a booking widget, you encourage the next moment, such as a visit to your store to make a purchase.

In a May 24 blog post, Google made some important announcements that, in effect, make it easier for businesses to create next moments on Google Maps by publishing ads and promoted content on their Google Maps locations:

  • Businesses that enable location extensions on their AdWords accounts can display ads for their locations on Google Maps. Your ads appear in two places: within the search results list when people conduct near me searches; and on Google Maps themselves where your location appears. According to Google’s Sridhar Ramaswamy, Senior Vice President, Ads and Commerce (and author of the blog post), your ad may also have a Directions button so that a searcher can easily get directions to your business.
  • Google is also experimenting with ways to make businesses easier to find through promoted content as people conduct near me searches. As Ramaswamy noted, “For example, Maps users may start to see promoted pins for nearby coffee shops, gas stations or lunch spots along their driving route.”
  • Local business pages are becoming more interactive. To encourage searchers to visit your location, Google is adding new features to your Google Maps pages such as special offers and the ability to browse your product inventory.

 

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You get the picture: Google Maps is becoming a playground for promotable content.

We’ve been seeing this change coming. For instance, last year on our blog, we noted that Google was making gas stations more prominent on driving routes on Google Maps (as Apple was doing). As we noted, Google was showing the name of the gas station, its distance from the driver, and how to get there — certainly not the same as promoted content, but definitely nudging Google Maps to a more brand-friendly experience. The addition of Pit Stop on iOS was another sign of Google connecting the dots between businesses and consumers using Google Maps to assist in navigation and discovery.

But features such as Pit Stop were more oriented toward enriching brand discovery in a more organic way, and they reminded businesses of the importance of being findable with accurate location data. The features Google announced May 24 are clearly geared toward businesses are willing to advertise.

Why the New Features?

So why is Google making these changes? As Google noted, Google Maps is a bridge between the online and offline worlds — and the successful conversion online-to-offline searches is not only of interest to Google advertisers but to Google to remain relevant to how consumers discover brands.

These words from Ramaswamy jumped out at me:

We’re also making it easier for marketers to bridge the digital and physical worlds. With location-related mobile searches growing 50% faster than all mobile searches, it’s clear that consumers are moving seamlessly between online and offline experiences. So it’s important to help marketers think this way too.

Not only are consumers seamlessly moving between online and offline experiences, they’re seamlessly moving along the sales funnel: 80 percent of local searches on mobile phones convert. According to Google, nearly one third of all mobile searches are related to location. Google Maps is all about mobile.

Google also intends to make measuring online-to-offline foot traffic more common so that brands can track their progress, too. In 2014, Google launched Store Visits, a feature that relies, in part, on Google Maps data to help businesses measure the offline impact of online ads placed on Google. On May 24, Google announced the availability of Store Visits to a broader range of advertisers.

It’s no coincidence that the expansion of Store Visits is occurring alongside the disclosure of a more brand-friendly Google Maps. Google not only wants to encourage next moments via advertising, the company wants to make them happen on Google platforms — and Google has the data (from Google Maps) to measure the success of those next moments.

What Should Businesses Do?

My advice to businesses that operate locations is as follows:

  • Set the foundation with location data. You can’t create next moments without first being found. Job One should be making your location data accurate and then sharing that data with Google so that your locations appear when near me searches occur on Google Maps. Treating your location data as a competitive asset requires a strategy and ongoing management, as we discuss in more detail in The CMO’s Guide to Location Data Management.
  • Develop a coordinated paid/organic search strategy. With free real estate on Google Maps and search engine results pages shrinking, brands need to develop a coordinated strategy that allows them to dial up their voice when appropriate and follow through on the increased awareness by making it easy for customers to find your locations. A paid strategy works best when you complement it with a foundation of strong location data. 
  • Be smart about creating next moments. Don’t use promoted content to plaster boring billboards on Google Maps. Winning next moments means creating contextual content such as offers customized by place, season, and the circumstances of the discovery.

As Google enriches company brand pages for Google Maps, businesses should take advantages of the opportunity to create rich, descriptive content and experiences that turns discovery into business. Contact us to talk more.  

 

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We’ve been actively following the Google My Business API updates for as long as they’ve been happening, and the recently announced Version 3 API update is no exception. As with the Version 2 update, Version 3 makes it possible for businesses to make a number of updates to their locations which previously needed to be done manually. In addition, the update introduces new functionality that businesses can manage only through the latest version of the API. This announcement should matter to anyone who manages multiple locations as it underscores Google’s commitment to support location marketing through data. And since Google is a market bellwether, the API should impress upon businesses the need to manage location data as a competitive asset.

What’s New

The API supports a number of processes at the local level, which needed to be completed manually previously. For example, a company can select a primary photo for its Google My Business page. Google uses those photos to power its knowledge graph, local finder, and Snack Pack search results, among other places. The API also uses filters to understand which locations have had suggestions made to their information, if any locations have been suspended, and if there are any duplicate listings in GMB. Other processes that can now be managed via the API include:

Transferring locations to different accounts. This could be important for agencies that manage SMBs with a lot of changes in management.

Seeing the status of all locations associated with your GMB account to understand if they are verified or unverified.

Even more exciting are the new functions available to make a business’s location more valuable to people conducting near me searches. Though GMB, businesses can add a deeper layer of location information, or attributes, beyond foundational location data such as the business’s name, address, and phone number. Attributes consist of content details such as the services a business provides and additional detail that may not apply to all businesses, such as the availability of free parking. Whereas foundational data builds an identity for a location, attributes help people conducting near me searches decide whether to visit the location.

The API update also makes it possible for businesses to read and respond to Google reviews through the GMB API. Previously, marketers could pull reviews through the Google Places API, but they could not pull reviews and respond in one place.

What the the API Update Means

Once again, Google is sending a message through its actions: in Google’s world, location marketing is getting bigger and bigger. By now you’ve read the data Google has published about near me searches increasing 34x since 2011. Google is reading not only the data but also the tea leaves and sees location marketing in its future. The GMB API updates continue to show that empowering brands to build a stronger location marketing foundation through data is the key to succeeding in that future. We’ll be talking more about the implications of the GMB API update soon. Meanwhile, contact us to discuss the impact of Google’s latest market-making move on your business.

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Image Credit: PixBay

Everyday search is evolving, and Google has made adjustments to its product roadmap based on the shift in search behavior.

In my most recent Search Engine Land byline, I share how Google is responding to changing search behaviors. For example, Google is creating physical products like Android Wear, Chromebooks, and driverless cars. I also urge marketers to sense and respond to change just as Google is.

I encourage you to check out my article, and let me know what you think. What other changes or predictions do you have for Google’s product roadmap? Connect with me. I’d love to talk more.

 

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Image Credit: ampproject.org

 

Google has gone live with its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project, which is an important development that pushes marketers toward embracing the mobile Web. According to Google, AMP is “an open source initiative that embodies the vision that publishers can create mobile optimized content once and have it load instantly everywhere.” In practical terms, AMP provides technical standards that developers can use to make Web pages load instantly on users’ mobile devices. Here’s a quick overview that breaks down AMP:

1. What is AMP all about?

First off, AMP is not an algorithm update. It’s an open-source framework for building mobile pages. AMP is first and foremost about improving the user experience on mobile devices due to how poorly optimized most sites are for mobile users.

As Greg Sterling reports (citing Yahoo data) in Search Engine Land, only five percent of mobile media time is spent with the mobile web, partly because consumers prefer apps owing to their better user experience. Google wants to address this imbalance by improving the mobile Web ecosystem that includes Google users, brands, and partners.

2. How is AMP improving the user experience on mobile devices?

Google is improving the user experience in two ways: reducing the amount of Javascript that can exist on these pages and having pages load directly from their servers (very similar to how Facebook Instant Articles work). Google reports that AMP sites load 85-percent faster than do traditional mobile websites.

3. Who benefits the most from AMP?

AMP is primarily going to be useful for publishing sites like blogs and newspapers for the time being. As The Guardian reports, AMP promises “to eliminate those excruciating seconds between tapping a link on your smartphone screen and being able to read an article on your favorite news website.”

But due to the limited Javascript support, critical conversion experiences such as shopping carts and scheduling tools are not possible as of this time, making AMP more of near-term interest to publishers than, say, enterprises, including those that manage wide-scale location marketing efforts. But AMP does matter to location marketers in a significant way: it’s one more sign that marketers need to optimize for mobile moments. If you aren’t thinking mobile by now, consider AMP as one more warning shot across the bow.

And let’s not forget that Google benefits from AMP. Google wants to keep users on the open Web, Googling content on our mobile devices and then consuming that content — instead of using walled gardens such as the Facebook mobile app or Apple News.

4. Is AMP another Mobilegeddon?

AMP is an exciting new tool, but it’s not a big-bang, pre-announced algorithm update like Mobilegeddon was. The limited Javascript options prevents many advanced digital marketing tactics. For instance, tools like A/B testers, call tracking overlays, and even Google Tag Manager are not currently supported, although Adobe Analytics and Google Analytics are both supported.

5. What should marketers do about AMP?

Google wants to see an efficient and useful mobile Web. If you are a brand marketer, the question isn’t “should I be using Google AMP?” but “How can I improve the mobile experience?” As I wrote recently in Search Engine Land, Google is inventing the future of location marketing in many ways — and creating a mobile “near me” future is one of them.

The SIM Partners Velocity platform is well suited to manage location marketing content in the mobile universe. Contact us to learn how we can help you.

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Think of a time when you have been in a new city, and have wondered where the closest restaurant or ATM is. With mobile playing a critical role in our lives, most people turn to their devices in that moment to find a location that’s closest to them.

Luckily for us Google is now autocompleting “near me” on mobile and desktop for many branded and non branded categories. In my latest Search Engine Land byline, I share how by doing this, Google is responding to what consumers want in our mobile era. I also discuss how Google is shaping the future of search through developments such as Mobilegeddon and the release of the Google My Business API.

Brands have to be sure to stay ahead and be ready for change. Do you have questions on how to ensure your brand is visible for near me search results? Connect with me, I’d love to discuss.

Sushi Near Me

Google is now making it easier for consumers to find what they are looking for nearby by autocompleting “near me” for keywords traditionally associated with local search.

Google serving local results for queries isn’t new — location is a key piece of context the algorithm uses to generate relevant search results. As Google reported last year, “near me” search interest has increased 34 times since 2011 and more than doubled last year alone.

But what is clear is that when it comes to search, “near me” is the new normal.

In 2013 when Google’s Local Carousel rolled out, I looked at 54 keywords that triggered carousel results. With Google autocompleting “near me,” I decided to do a similar analysis of some non-branded terms.

Below is a list of 135 keyword terms that I tested both on desktop and mobile — over 90 percent autocompleted “near me” on desktop searches and 78 percent autocompleted “near me” on mobile.

Queries Triggering “Near Me” Autocompletes on Desktop and Mobile:

accountants
animal shelter
antique shop
antique store
apartments
arcades
art galleries
atm
auto shop
bakery
banks
barber shops
bars
bbq
bike shop
bookstore
bowling alley
brewery
brewpubs
cafes
car dealers
car dealerships
cardiologists
chinese food
clothing store
coffee shops
comedy clubs
daycare
deli
dentist
diners
dog park
electricians
emergency room
employment agency
Ethiopian Restauarant
eye doctor
fast food
florist
furniture store
gas station
German Restauarant
golf course
grocery stores
hair salons
hardware store
health club
home improvement store
hospices
indian restaurant
italian restaurant
japanese restaurant
jewelery store
landscapers
laundromat
lawyer
library
locksmith
mediterranean restaurant
mexican food
mortgage lenders
mosque
motel
movie theater
moving companies
museums
nail salons
nature preserves
night clubs
oncologist
painters
parks
pawn shops
pediatrician
pet store
pho
pizza
plumbers
polish restaurant
post office
pt clinics
real estaste agents
record store
restaurants
salads
salon
sandwiches
schools
seafood restaurants
self storage
shoe store
shopping center
shopping mall
shops
soup kitchen
spa
steakhouse
sushi
tacos
taiwanese food
tattoo shops
taxi
thai food
theater
toy store
travel agency
travel agent
vet
vietnamese food
police station

Queries Triggering “Near Me” Autocompletes on Desktop Only:

amusement parks
attorneys
auto insurance
breakfast
car rental
casino
catering
church
coffee
colleges
convenience store
credit union
department store
doctors
fire station
hamburgers
hospitals
hotels
insurance agency
insurance agent
midwife
synagogue
x-ray clinic

Queries Triggering “Near Me” Autocompletes on Mobile Only:
real estate agent
swimming pool

Queries We Were Surprised That Didn’t Trigger a “Near Me” Autocomplete Suggestion:
financial advisor
hostel
mortgage loan officer
office space
physician
real estate broker
temple

A couple of quick takeaways:

  • “Near me” is a given on mobile. When people search for something like “movie theater” on a mobile device, Google automatically dials up the location aspect of the algorithm to a point that the difference between the set of results returned with or without “near me” is negligible.
  • The algorithm is discerning intent. Some of the keyword “near me” autocomplete variances are classic examples of Google’s ability to discern intent. For example, if a consumer searches “movie theatre,” they are most likely looking for the theaters that are closest to where they are in that moment in time — but if someone searches “DVD,” the algorithm can discern that they probably aren’t looking for the nearest dvd to them.

Google is clearly looking to provide searchers with the most relevant results as possible, and location is a key piece of context that can drive relevance. To be visible in “near me” moments of search, brands should actively manage and distribute their location data — including name, address, and phone information as well as store hours of operation — to Google via the new Google My Business API, as well as other data amplifiers.

As the world becomes increasingly mobile, consumers expect to get what they want anytime, anywhere. Brands need to actively manage their location data to ensure they are there where and when people are searching.

Are there any other keywords you’ve seen this for? Connect with me, I’d love to discuss.